Oct 14, 2020 • Last Updated 22 days ago • 4 minute read
A letter from the Nova Scotia government sent out to residents to warn about a pack of wolves on the loose in the province was forged by Canadian military personnel as part of a propaganda training mission that went off the rails.
The letter told residents to be wary of wolves that had been reintroduced into the area by the provincial and federal governments and warned the animals were now roaming the Annapolis Valley. The letter, which later became public, sparked concern and questions among residents but was later branded as “fake” by the Nova Scotia government which didn’t know the military was behind the deception.
The training also involved using a loudspeaker to generate wolf sounds, the Canadian Forces confirmed to this newspaper.
The fake letter was part of new skills being tested by the military as it hones its expertise for launching propaganda missions at home and abroad. The letter was developed by information warfare specialists with the Halifax Rifles, a reserve unit.
They not only forged the logo of the Wildlife Division of Nova Scotia’s Department of Lands and Forestry but they also attributed the letter to a real Nova Scotia government employee, even though they didn’t have permission to do so. A phone number on the letter, which residents were to call if they had concerns about the wolves, was traced by this newspaper to the work number of an Environment Canada employee, who also appears to be a Canadian Forces reservist.
The Canadian Forces revealed its role behind the fake letter last week to the Nova Scotia government and then on the weekend to local news media. Media outlets reported military staff had written the letter but didn’t know why.
Emma Briant, a professor at Bard College in the U.S. who specializes in researching military propaganda, said what the Canadian Forces did was a major violation of ethics. “This is way over the top,” Briant said. “It’s a very dangerous path when you start targeting your own public with false information and trying to manipulate them.”
Briant said the deception has nothing to do with wolves; it was likely an exercise in the testing the military’s skills in trying to manipulate the population with false information. “You start a rumour about wolves on the loose and then you see how the public reacts,” she added.
Similar deception operations were tried by contractors of SCL, a propaganda company which had worked for the U.S. and British militaries in Afghanistan and other locations in Asia. In those cases, false information was transmitted to villagers to convince them not to send their children to religious schools where they might be radicalized. But instead of being truthful, the contractors concocted an information campaign claiming pedophiles were operating in religious schools and parents shouldn’t send them there because their children would be in danger of being molested.
Department of National Defence spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said the fake letter wasn’t meant to be released to the public and an investigation is underway to determine how that happened. The letter was an aid for the propaganda training. Le Bouthillier said he didn’t know why the loudspeaker was set up to transmit wolf sounds and that will be investigated as well.
The training initiative did not follow the established approval process and was not okayed by senior leaders, he added.
The Nova Scotia propaganda training comes as the Canadian Forces spools up its capabilities to conduct information warfare, influence operations and other deception missions aimed at populations overseas and, if necessary, the Canadian public.
Briant revealed on Monday the Canadian Forces spent more than $1 million in training its public affairs officers in skills to influence targeted populations.
In July, this newspaper reported a team assigned to a Canadian military intelligence unit monitored and collected information from people’s social media accounts in Ontario, claiming such data-mining was needed to help troops working in long-term care homes during the coronavirus pandemic. The collection involved comments made by the public about the provincial government’s failure in taking care of the elderly in the province. That data was turned over to the Ontario government, with a warning from the team it represented a “negative” reaction from the public.
This newspaper reported at the same time that the Canadian Forces planned a propaganda campaign aimed at heading off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan used similar propaganda tactics to those employed against the Afghan population during the war in Afghanistan, including loudspeaker trucks to transmit government messages. The propaganda operation was never put into action.
In addition, some Canadian military officers have suggested creating fake Facebook and other social media accounts for carrying out deception operations as well as harnessing social media accounts of Canadian Forces members, military-friendly academics and retired senior military staff to challenge opposition politicians and journalists who raise controversial issues regarding the Canadian Forces.
The Canadian Forces stresses that it follows ethical guidelines in its propaganda operations.
But others inside the military say that isn’t the case, pointing to the Nova Scotia operation as a prime example as it violated Canadian privacy law and the Criminal Code when soldiers forged documents.
The fake wolf letter was dated Sept. 19, two days after Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance met with senior military leaders to explain “the value of ethical decision making and the importance of maintaining the credibility of the CAF by being honest and transparent in everything we do.”
I wish it were not so, but most human beings seem incapable of critical thought regarding how history follows a cyclical path due to human nature retaining its flaws, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and fortes throughout history. We believe we have advanced because our inventions, discoveries, and technology, but the desire for wealth, power and control over others still consumes a sociopathic portion of mankind who tend to rise to the top through any means necessary.
As Huxley lamented in the 1950’s, technological progress has actually propelled mankind backwards in terms of its humanity and relationship with nature and other human beings. The very technology we glorify as an example of our advancement is now being used by the totalitarians to imprison us. It has happened slowly and methodically over decades as generation after generation have entered the government indoctrination centers (public schools) to be taught ignorance and obedience to the state. This indoctrination has been reinforced by ceaseless propaganda injected into their brains by media conglomerates doing the bidding of the state.
The dystopian use of disinformation, false narratives, blatant lies and propaganda by the totalitarians constituting the Deep State, as their never-ending coup attempt against a duly elected president attests, will be the catalyst for the next vicious phase of this Fourth Turning. For the last four years the Russiagate coup has dogged Trump, as Obama, Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Mueller and a myriad of lesser co-conspirators have propagated the Big Lie to cover-up their traitorous actions of trying to overthrow Trump.
An honest truth-seeking press with unbiased journalists would have uncovered this conspiracy and revealed the truthful facts to a concerned public. Instead, a completely captured corporate media has turned a blind eye to the truth as they have acted as accomplices of the coup culprits. Just as evil is the suppression of truth through censorship and keeping silent regarding the truth. Huxley understood how totalitarian propagandists operated decades before the current batch of Silicon Valley authoritarians initiated their national truth repression scheme.
“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” – Aldous Huxley
A perfect example of this is my local ABC news affiliate doing an hour long broadcast last night with absolutely no mention of the Hunter Biden – Joe Biden pay for play scandal. The truth dies in silence. The left-wing media dominated by six mega-corporations and social media billionaire titans (Bezos, Zuckerberg, Dorsey) have colluded with other left wing billionaires (Soros, Bloomberg) and the traitorous Deep Staters (Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Clinton) to bring down a sitting president and now to memory hole proof of Joe Biden corruption and his son’s illegal dealings with foreign enemies.
These anti-rational propagandists are enemies of freedom, as they systematically pervert reality and knowingly manipulate the minds of the masses towards how they require them to think, feel and act. After years of socialist indoctrination in government schools and universities, the masses have been taught to feel rather than think. Victimhood is celebrated, while personal responsibility is scorned.
The truth has been revealed, to those capable of critical thinking since the onset of this engineered pandemic fear exercise in March 2020. We have segued from the soft tyranny of Huxley’s Brave New World towards the harsh tyranny of Orwell’s 1984. As the leftist oligarchs have unleashed their ANTIFA and BLM terrorists in cities across America in “mostly peaceful protests”, as proclaimed by the Big Brother media, ignorance is strength rings true across our dystopian landscape.
I’m amazed by the extreme level of ignorance exhibited by a vast swath of our population, as they glory in believing comforting mistruths which confirm their preordained belief structure. They don’t know because they don’t want to know. They are intoxicated by the endless stream of idiocy emanating from their iGadgets, as they willfully choose ignorance over awareness, servitude over freedom, and captivity over liberty.
As Huxley predicted, the controlling oligarchy has used technology to convince people to love their servitude, while unthinkingly believing what they are told by their government and media mouthpieces, doing the bidding of the government and oligarchs who control the government. The goal of the ruling class is to keep people from thinking, and most willingly oblige because thinking is hard and the uncomfortable truths are too much to bear for the satiated masses.
But there is a minority who want the truth and are willing and able to deal with the consequences. They realize facts don’t cease to exist because we ignore them. (emphasis added) Facts don’t care about your beliefs or feelings. Facts lead you to the truth. And the immense coverup of facts over the last ten months as we approach this historically important election boggles the mind of every critical thinking person on the planet.
This clearly coordinated effort to mislead the public regarding our dire financial plight, the truth about this overblown flu, the true facts about the Russiagate coup attempt against Trump, and now the massive Joe Biden/Hunter Biden corruption scandal coverup, has taken on a new level of malevolence and deceitfulness. The duplicitous nature of the measures taken by the social media tyrants to control the narrative and dictate what the people must believe will climax in a violent response by those unwilling to accept their plot to overthrow the government and shredding of the U.S. Constitution.
In today’s episode of COVID fakery on rye and hold the apocalypse, we begin with a bevy of quotes from Edward Bernays (1891-1995), the acknowledged father of modern public relations, aka propaganda. I include his statements as a warm-up backgrounder—
“This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.” (1928)
“The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.” (1947)
“It is sometimes possible to change the attitudes of millions but impossible to change the attitude of one man.” (date unknown)
“When I came back to the United States, I decided that if you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace. And ‘propaganda’ got to be a bad word because of the Germans using it, so what I did was to try and find some other words. So we found the words ‘counsel on public relations’.” (date unknown)
“When Napoleon said, ‘Circumstance? I make circumstance‚’ he expressed very nearly the spirit of the public relations counsel’s work.” (1923)
“Domination to-day is not a product of armies or navies or wealth or policies. It is a domination based on the one hand upon accomplished unity, and on the other hand upon the fact that opposition is generally characterized by a high degree of disunity.” (1923)
“The public relations counsel, therefore, is a creator of news for whatever medium he chooses to transmit ideas. It is his duty to create news no matter what the medium which broadcasts this news.” (1923)
“The only difference between ‘propaganda’ and ‘education,’ really, is in the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don’t believe in is propaganda.” (1923)
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.” (1928)
“Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.” (1928)
“If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway. But men do not need to be actually gathered together in a public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the influences of mass psychology. Because man is by nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences.” (1928)
The news heads and the talk show heads and the sports heads and the advertisers and bureaucrats and politicians and public health flacks and celebrities are assuring television viewers, with no shame: We’re all in this together. Over and over. Night and day. On every channel.
This was the strategy during older wars. No time for disagreement or dissent; there must be a unified response and effort; otherwise, we could lose.
We’re all in this together means: fall in line.
If that’s share and care and love, it’s robot love.
Advertisers, despite their studies and their sophistication and their wall-to-wall profiling of consumers, still believe in the first principle of propaganda: repetition.
Get the name of your product and company out there and don’t stop. Do it a thousand times, a million times. As long as you have money to pay for ads, do it.
Look at the insurance company commercials. Progressive, State Farm, Liberty, Geico. The little vignettes they lay on are really the occasion for pasting their company name on the screen. Make these 30-second stories friendly and funny and crazy, but the money shot is the company name.
Pandemic ads and messages follow the same rule. In this case, it’s TOGETHERNESS. UNITY. Pounded on and on.
Why? If cooperation and love and togetherness are basic human impulses, why do people need to be reminded of that 24 hours a day, on television?
Does a husband who loves his wife need to see his face and his wife’s face on a screen, on every channel, without let-up, along with a message urging him to adore her?
On the other hand, a person who’s been thrown out of a job, who can’t find work, who sees his government checks fading down to zero…he needs pacification. That’s a tough sell. That sell-job requires a whole lot of repetition…
…In order to produce SHAME in him, if he feels cheated and exiled and screwed. The repetition of togetherness and fake love informs him that the collective citizenry isn’t on his side. It tells him his righteous anger has no place in the relentlessly upbeat messaging of “unity.” It keeps him feeling isolated.
Now we’re getting down to it. Don’t let the people who are economically devastated believe they can find each other. Shut them out. Pump them full of television public service ads that paint an “uplifting” picture from which they’re excluded.
They may be devastated, but television tells them they aren’t on the team if they give their own concerns first priority. If they do, they’re non-persons.
After all, when they sit at home watching TV, do they see a cropped video of another unemployed worker sitting in a dark room saying, “THIS IS CRAZY. I WANT TO WORK. I NEED FOOD. MY BOSS CLOSED HIS COMPANY. HE’S BANKRUPT. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”
Are they offered that kind of unity? Togetherness?
“Hi. I’m an NFL cornerback. I’ve made thirty million during my career. Here I am at home with my kids. We’re playing games on the floor. I’m enjoying my family. We’ll get through this. All of us. Stay safe. Use the time to bring your family closer together.”
Major news outlets are under strict orders to keep “disturbing human interest stories” off the front page and away from their broadcasts. This is also part and parcel of the wartime effort.
It would have to be, since economic devastation is what this fake pandemic is actually all about. No one in the mainstream will let that cat out of the bag. It would be more than a mistake. It would be a confession. It would be suicide.
How about these headlines? VACCINE KINGS WANT TO SOFTEN UP POPULATIONS FOR A NEEDLE IN THE ARM. A RUINED POPULACE IS READY TO BE LED INTO A NEW WORLD ORDER.
Propagandists know that a one-two punch of fear and then assurance works. Scare them with the virus, comfort them with togetherness.
But still, it’s a tough sell. It has legs for a while, but then the natives become restless, especially in the hinterlands. People who aren’t jammed together in big cities, who live in open spaces, tend to develop immunity to lies. Coiffed press hookers on television dispensing so-called news carry less punch. Farmers know if they can’t plant their crops on time, with workers side by side, they’ll go broke.
Generally speaking, people who don’t see other people who are sick, and don’t hear ambulance sirens, start wondering what’s happening.
Protests begin. Protests expand.
The fake night of obedience turns into the real day of rebellion.
It turns out that a story about an invisible virus isn’t quite the same as a line of enemy tanks approaching. All promoted wars are not equal.
Fauci knows this. Birx knows this. Bill Gates knows this. Mayors and governors know this. The CDC and WHO know this. They don’t really care whether you survive, but they know you care. So, for them, it’s a race against time. How long can they keep the lid on? How long can their preposterous messaging work?
Stage magic is an odd game. The performer has to run his tricks quickly, so people don’t have the luxury of sitting back and thinking about how he is fooling them. However, the public health magicians and the politician magicians and the news magicians are hemmed in—they’re basically one-trick ponies. Virus, virus, virus=together, together, together.
It looks good, but it wears out.
It’s wearing out now.
I’ll close this piece with a few more gems from Edward Bernays—to urge you to keep your eye on the ball. The real ball.
“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?” (1928)
“A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable. This entails a vastly more complex system of distribution than formerly.” (1928)
“No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and clichés and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.” (1928)
“Propaganda is of no use to the politician unless he has something to say which the public, consciously or unconsciously, wants to hear.” (1928)
Government trolls. Disinformation shills. Call them what you want, they are real.
Every day at WuW, we see “comments” submitted on our articles that are blatantly composed by trolls. Lengthy, well written comments designed to steer the conversation in a pro-government, pro-status quo direction. They pose as readers and first-time commenters, but post essay length commentary quoting “expert” government research on a range of topics, question those who question the government line, and urge us to believe in the path chosen for us by our trusted leaders. If we believe them, everything is and has always been ok. No further questions need to be asked. Those who do are paranoid.
Site moderation is something we take very seriously at WuW. We offer a platform for different voices and opinions to be expressed, and it is therefore quite rare that we suppress a reader’s comment from being posted on the site. But we’re not stupid, and we won’t let our site be undermined. We know government trolls and paid disinformation shills are real, and we can pick their work a mile away. It has a certain… quality. And they prove us right! The troll comments we supress are often re-submitted, again and again, word for word, from a variety of reader aliases and email addresses.
Like I said… we’re not stupid.
This is the story of a man who, due to economically hard times, accepted a job as an internet disinformation shill. After only 6 months, he resigned. He was no longer was able to look himself in the mirror.
…..I am writing here (ATS Forum) to come out of the closet as a paid shill. For a little over six months, I was paid to spread disinformation and argue political points on the Internet. ATS was NOT one that I was assigned to post on, although other people in the same organization were paid to be here, and I assume they still walk among you. But more on this later.
I quit this job in the latter part of 2011, because I became disgusted with it, and with myself. I realized I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore. If this confession triggers some kind of retribution against me, so be it. Part of being a real man in this world is having real values that you stand up for, no matter what the consequences.
My story begins in early 2011. I had been out of work for almost a year after losing my last job in tech support. Increasingly desperate and despondent, I jumped at the chance when a former co-worker called me up and said she had a possible lead for me. “It is an unusual job, and one that requires secrecy. But the pay is good. And I know you are a good writer, so its something you are suited for.” (Writing has always been a hobby for me). She gave me only a phone-number and an address, in one of the seedier parts of San Francisco, where I live. intrigued, I asked her for the company’s URL and some more info. She laughed. “They don’t have a website. Or even a name. You’ll see. Just tell them I referred you.” Yes, it sounded suspicious, but long-term joblessness breeds desperation, and desperation has a funny way of overlooking the suspicious when it comes to putting food on the table.
The next day, I arrived at the address – the third floor in a crumbling building. The appearance of the place did not inspire confidence. After walking down a long, filthy linoleum-covered corridor lit by dimly-flickering halogen, I came to the entrance of the office itself: a crudely battered metal door with a sign that said “United Amalgamated Industries, Inc.” I later learned that this “company” changed its name almost monthly, always using bland names like that which gave no strong impression of what the company actually does. Not too hopeful, I went inside. The interior was equally shabby. There were a few long tables with folding chairs, at which about a dozen people were tapping away on old, beat-up computers. There were no decorations or ornaments of any type: not even the standard-issue office fica trees or plastic ferns. What a dump. Well, beggars can’t be choosers.
The manager, a balding man in his late forties, rose from the only stand-alone desk in the room and came forward with an easy smile. “You must be Chris. Yvette [my ex-co-worker] told me you’d be coming.” [Not our real names]. “Welcome. Let me tell you a little about what we do.” No interview, nothing. I later learned they took people based solely on referral, and that the people making the referrals, like my ex-colleague Yvette, were trained to pick out candidates based on several factors including ability to keep one’s mouth shut, basic writing skills, and desperation for work.
We sat down at his desk and he began by asking me a few questions about myself and my background, including my political views (which were basically non-existent). Then he began to explain the job. “We work on influencing people’s opinions here,” is how he described it. The company’s clients paid them to post on Internet message boards and popular chartrooms, as well as in gaming forums and social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Who were these clients? “Oh, various people,” he said vaguely. “Sometimes private companies, sometimes political groups.” Satisfied that my political views were not strong, he said I would be assigned to political work. “The best people for this type of job are people like you, without strong views,” he said with a laugh. “It might seem counterintuitive, but actually we’ve found that to be the case.” Well, OK. Fine. As long as it comes with a steady paycheck, I’d believe whatever they wanted me to believe, as the guy in Ghostbusters said.
After discussing pay (which was much better than I’d hoped) and a few other details, he then went over the need for absolute privacy and secrecy. “You can’t tell anyone what we do here. Not your wife, not your dog.” (I have neither, as it happens.) “We’ll give you a cover story and even a phone number and a fake website you can use. You will have to tell people you are a consultant. Since your background is in tech support, that will be your cover job. Is this going to be a problem for you?” I assured him it would not. “Well, OK. Shall we get started?”
“Right now?” I asked, a bit taken aback.
“No time like the present!” he said with a hearty laugh.
The rest of the day was taken up with training. Another staff member, a no-nonsense woman in her thirties, was to be my trainer, and training would only last two days. “You seem like a bright guy, you’ll get the hang of it pretty fast, I think,” she said. And indeed, the job was easier than I’d imagined. My task was simple: I would be assigned to four different websites, with the goal of entering certain discussions and promoting a certain view. I learned later that some of the personnel were assigned to internet message boards (like me), while others worked on Facebook or chat rooms It seems these three types of media each have different strategy for shilling, and each shill concentrates on one of the three in particular.
My task? “To support Israel and counter anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic posters.” Fine with me. I had no opinions one way or another about Israel, and who likes anti-Semites and Nazis? Not me, anyway. But I didn’t know too much about the topic. “That’s OK,” she said. “You’ll pick it up as you go along. For the most part, at first, you will be doing what we call “meme-patrol.” This is pretty easy. Later if you show promise, we’ll train you for more complex arguments, where more in-depth knowledge is necessary.”
She handed me two binders with sheets enclosed in limp plastic. The first was labeled simply “Israel” in magic-marker on the cover, and it had two sections .The first section contained basic background info on the topic. I would have to read and memorize some of this, as time went on. It had internet links for further reading, essays and talking points, and excerpts from some history books. The second, and larger, section was called “Strat” (short for “strategy”) with long lists of “dialogue pairs.” These were specific responses to specific postings. If a poster wrote something close to “X,” we were supposed to respond with something close to “Y.” “You have to mix it up a bit, though,” said my trainer. “Otherwise it gets too obvious. Learn to use a thesaurus.” This section also contained a number of hints for de-railing conversations that went too far away from what we were attempting. These strategies included various forms of personal attacks, complaining to the forum moderators, smearing the characters of our opponents, using images and icons effectively, and even dragging the tone of the conversation down with sexual innuendo, links to pornography, or other such things. “Sometimes we have to fight dirty,” or trainer told us. “Our opponents don’t hesitate to, so we can’t either.”
The second binder was smaller, and it contained information specific to the web sites I would be assigned to. The sites I would work were: Godlike Productions, Lunatic Outpost, CNN news, Yahoo News, and a handful of smaller sites that rotated depending on need. As stated, I was NOT assigned to work ATS (although others in my group were), which is part of the reason I am posting this here, rather than elsewhere. I wanted to post this on Godlike Productions at first, but they have banned me from even viewing that site for some reason (perhaps they are onto me?). But if somebody connected with this site can get the message to them, I think they should know about it, because that was the site I spent a good 70% of my time working on.
The site-specific info in the second binder included a brief history each site, including recent flame-wars, as well as info on what to avoid on each site so as not to get banned. It also had quite detailed info on the moderators and the most popular regged posters on each site: location (if known), personality type, topics of interest, background sketch, and even some notes on how to “push the psychological buttons” of different posters. Although I didn’t work for ATS, I did see they had a lot of info on your so-called “WATS” posters here (the ones with gold borders around their edges). “Focus on the popular posters,” my trainer told me. “These are the influential ones. Each of these is worth 50 to 100 of the lesser known names.” Each popular poster was classified as “hostile,” “friendly,” or “indifferent” to my goal. We were supposed to cultivate friendship with the friendly posters as well as the mods (basically, by brown nosing and sucking up), and there were even notes on strategies for dealing with specific hostile posters. The info was pretty detailed, but not perfect in every case. “If you can convert one of the hostile posters from the enemy side to our side, you get a nice bonus. But this doesn’t happen too often, sadly. So mostly you’ll be attacking them and trying to smear them.”
At first, like I said, my job was “meme-patrol.” This was pretty simple and repetitive; it involved countering memes and introducing new memes, and didn’t demand much in-depth knowledge of the subject. Mostly just repetitive posting based on the dialogue pairs in the “Strat” section of the first binder. A lot of my job was de-railing and spamming threads that didn’t go our way, or making accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. Sometimes I had to simply lie and claim a poster said something or did something “in another thread” they really hadn’t said or done I felt bad about this…but in the end I felt worse about the possibility of losing the first job I’d been able to get since losing my “real” job.
The funny thing was, although I started the job with no strong opinions or political views, after a few weeks of this I became very emotionally wedded to the pro-Israel ideas I was pushing. There must be some psychological factor at work…a good salesman learns to honestly love the products he’s selling, I guess. It wasn’t long before my responses became fiery and passionate, and I began to learn more about the topic on my own. “This is a good sign,” my trainer told me. “It means you are ready for the next step: complex debate.”
The “complex debate” part of the job involved a fair amount of additional training, including memorizing more specific information about the specific posters (friendly and hostile) I’d be sparring with. Here, too, there were scripts and suggested lines of argument, but we were given more freedom. There were a lot of details to this more advanced stage of the job – everything from how to select the right avatar to how to use “demotivationals” (humorous images with black borders that one finds floating around the web). Even the proper use of images of cats was discussed. Sometimes we used faked or photo-shopped images or doctored news reports (something else that bothered me).
I was also given the job of tying to find new recruits, people “like me” who had the personality type, ability to keep a secret, basic writing/thinking skills, and desperation necessary to sign on a shill. I was less successful at this part of the job, though, and I couldn’t find another in the time I was there.
After a while of doing this, I started to feel bad. Not because of the views I was pushing (as I said, I was first apolitical, then pro-Israel), but because of the dishonesty involved. If my arguments were so correct, I wondered, why did we have to do this in the first place? Shouldn’t truth propagate itself naturally, rather than through, well…propaganda? And who was behind this whole operation, anyway? Who was signing my paychecks? The stress of lying to my parents and friends about being a “consultant” was also getting to me. Finally, I said enough was enough. I quit in September 2011. Since then I’ve been working a series of unglamorous temp office jobs for lower pay. But at least I’m not making my living lying and heckling people who come online to express their views and exercise freedom of speech.
A few days ago I happened to be in the same neighborhood and on a whim thought I’d check out the old office. It turns out the operation is gone, having moved on. This, too, I understood, is part of their strategy: Don’t stay in the same place for too long, don’t keep the same name too long, move on after half a year or so. Keeping a low profile, finding new employees through word of mouth: All this is part of the shill way of life. But it is a deceptive way of life, and no matter how noble the goals (I remain pro-Israel, by the way), these sleazy means cannot be justified by the end.
This is my confession. I haven’t made up my mind yet about whether I want to talk more about this, so if I don’t respond to this thread, don’t be angry. But I think you should know: Shills exist. They are real. They walk among you, and they pay special attention to your popular gold-bordered WATS posters. You should be aware of this. What you choose to do with this awareness is up to you.